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Universal Truckload Services (ULH) is a Top Dividend Stock Right Now: Should You Buy?

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Whether it's through stocks, bonds, ETFs, or other types of securities, all investors love seeing their portfolios score big returns. But for income investors, generating consistent cash flow from each of your liquid investments is your primary focus.

Cash flow can come from bond interest, interest from other types of investments, and of course, dividends. A dividend is the distribution of a company's earnings paid out to shareholders; it's often viewed by its dividend yield, a metric that measures a dividend as a percent of the current stock price. Many academic studies show that dividends make up large portions of long-term returns, and in many cases, dividend contributions surpass one-third of total returns.

Universal Truckload Services in Focus

Headquartered in Warren, Universal Truckload Services is a Transportation stock that has seen a price change of 12.16% so far this year. The trucking and logistics company is currently shelling out a dividend of $0.22 per share, with a dividend yield of 2.07%. This compares to the Transportation - Truck industry's yield of 0.43% and the S&P 500's yield of 1.96%.

Taking a look at the company's dividend growth, its current annualized dividend of $0.42 is up 9.1% from last year. In the past five-year period, Universal Truckload Services has increased its dividend 1 times on a year-over-year basis for an average annual increase of 6.42%. Looking ahead, future dividend growth will be dependent on earnings growth and payout ratio, which is the proportion of a company's annual earnings per share that it pays out as a dividend. Universal Truckload's current payout ratio is 20%. This means it paid out 20% of its trailing 12-month EPS as dividend.

Looking at this fiscal year, ULH expects solid earnings growth. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2019 is $2.12 per share, representing a year-over-year earnings growth rate of 1.92%.

Bottom Line

Investors like dividends for many reasons; they greatly improve stock investing profits, decrease overall portfolio risk, and carry tax advantages, among others. However, not all companies offer a quarterly payout.

For instance, it's a rare occurrence when a tech start-up or big growth business offers their shareholders a dividend. It's more common to see larger companies with more established profits give out dividends. Income investors must be conscious of the fact that high-yielding stocks tend to struggle during periods of rising interest rates. With that in mind, ULH is a compelling investment opportunity. Not only is it a strong dividend play, but the stock currently sits at a Zacks Rank of 3 (Hold).

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